GHOST SHIPS: Part 2. The Mary Celeste and other derelicts

GHOST SHIP: SUPER TANKER PRESTIGE, FULLY LADEN FROM BAHAMAIN, WHICH SANK OFF THE COAST OF SPAIN IN 2002. THE TANKER WAS SNAPPED IN TWO. AS LONG AS THEIR BULKHEADS HOLD, STEEL SHIPS ARE KNOWN TO HAVE BECOME DRIFTING DERELICTS. PAINTING: BY ALAN LUCAS.

Resolven was found some time later by a boarding party from HMS Mallard.

ALAN LUCAS

Almost on par with Mary Celeste, in the annals of mystery ships, was the brig Resolven. In 1884, she was sailing out to load fish from the Grand Bank schooners when her people completely disappeared.

She was later found and boarded by a party from HMS Mallard who noted that the port and starboard lights were still alight, the galley fire was still burning, and in the cabin was a bag of gold ready to pay the fishermen for their catches.

There was nothing wrong with Resolven; yet the fate of her missing people was never solved.

In 1881, an even stranger mystery derelict was that of the American sailing vessel Ellen Austin. That year, she was found abandoned in perfect order by a passing schooner whose skipper and crew felt confident of receiving a fair salvage settlement once they got her into port.

To this end they put a salvage crew aboard to sail her to the nearest American port, and en route both vessels encountered a moderate storm that separated them. Incredibly, when they met again, the crew of the prize ship had completely disappeared for no logical reason.

DISMASTED AND LEAKING BADLY

As to how two separate crews on the same ship could so completely disappear in such a short time, it was a double-whammy mystery never solved.

There was a no mystery attached to the schooner W.L. White for she was very willingly abandoned in a blizzard in Delaware Bay in 1888 after her crew hoisted her ensign upside down to signal distress. Abandoned, she then become famous for her long distance drift along a course later carefully plotted by the US Hydrographic Department.

The schooner drifted over 5000 miles in eleven months, which is about 15 miles a day. In which time no fewer that forty ships reported her before she finally went ashore in the Hebrides, northern Scotland.

Drifting 5000 miles in eleven months might be something of a record. Another vessel took nineteen months for the same distance. In 1895, the schooner Alma Cummings crew were taken off by a steamer after being dismasted and found to be leaking badly.

No-one would believe she could have floated for nineteen months, but that’s exactly what she did. During that time she was a nightmare for every navigator who knew of her but had no idea where she might be encountered.

It was especially worrying during the long night hours; this fact inspiring a passing steamer’s crew to go aboard and burn her. This they did. But then she became an even more dangerous obstacle because instead of sinking she floated just below the surface.

<< Ghost Ships – the Mary Celeste and other derelicts by Alan Lucas; Afloat Magazine, August, 2017.

Next fortnight: Final part. Alan Lucas touches on two more derelicts in our wide, wide ocean.

Illustrations: Hard life. The barque Edward L. Maybury is seen drifting in the North Atlantic long after being abandoned. Did not go down. The barque Manicia abandoned in the North Sea in the late 1800s. She was found heeling to starboard, obviously in a sinking state. But she didn’t sink. She became a shipping hazard for a long time.


WELL, YOUR GATSBY IS READY TO GO.

NOW, YOU DRIVE A GATSBY!

FRANK MORRIS

“I feel like a drive in the Gatsby,” he said. “I don’t think you should; you are just getting over the stroke?” said I.

“It a not a whopping big car. It only recently brand new. It’s a Gatsby mobility scooter. “And you know what,” he said, “Gatsby is an impressive model. The high standards of workmanship, to say the least, puts this mobility scooter on a very high plane.

“It’s a touring scooter and elegantly mobile. It was an excellent choice,” he said. Jay Gatsby would have been ahead of the crowd.

THERE’S NOTHING LIKE IT

The name Gatsby lives up to its individuality. “We are combining style with advanced technology and that adds a new dimension to the advanced world of mobility scooters,” said a spokesman.

If you love to go travelling, and be seen in style, there only one way to go – it’s a Gatsby.

“There nothing like it,” said the spokesman. And it comes in either red or black.”

<< Scooters Australia; 1300 622 633; www.scootersAus.com.au

Illustration: All the mod cons. The Gatsby is equipped with the modern touch. It has a stand-out dial base and pump-up tyres. Just two of the many features.


GOLD, GOLD, GOLD: BETTY CUTHBERT AND HER GOLD MEDALS.

FAMOUS CELEBRITY: FINAL. HOW BETTY CUTHBERT WAS DISCOVERED!

Adapted by FRANK MORRIS

There is such a similarity in the careers of Betty Cuthbert and Marjorie Jackson. Such a comparison is unavoidable but it is hardly fair to come to a formal judgement until the careers of each is finished. Marjorie has retired and Betty Cuthbert would appear to have several years ahead of her.

Cuthbert has no nerves once she goes to her mark for the start. It isn’t a hard-boiled nervelessness, or familiarity with strain of top level competition; it is merely that she refuses to believe the fate of the world hangs on the result? Cuthbert runs without the tension that affects so many women sprinters.

ESSENTIALLY FEMININE

Her high knee lift and what a few overseas critics describe as “an exaggerated ugly style” are merely an indication of the looseness of limb that relaxation allows.

In the usual press interviews after her victory when microphones were thrust at her and cameras thrust in her face her composure and modesty were remarkable.

No one gained more gold medals than she did. No gold medallist was younger, and none was prettier nor more essentially feminine. And none more fully deserved the adulation of the crowd.

<< Olympic Saga. The Track and Field story, Melbourne, 1956; Keith Donald and Don Selth; Futurian Press, Sydney. First Edition, 1957.

Illustration: Extra close. Betty Cuthbert and her sister, Maria.


PEOPLE ARE OBESE: ARE YOU ONE OF THEM?

FOUR RISKS TO WORRY ABOUT – A SHORT LIST OF DEATH AND DANGER

Most health threats come as a big surprise. In the olden days, the skull and crossbones would adhere itself in obvious way! But not today; it’s left up to statistics.

FRANK MORRIS

Risk – it’s a dangerous word. It’s a word which seems to have everybody’s measure. So, what will cause your death? And what are your approximate chances? Statistics always seems to make death probable.

“We’re all told that death is certain. But even with something that ought to be as clear-cut as dying, it turns out that numbers (statistics) are an unreliable guide at best,” said Dr Holt.

“What are your odds of dying from any single cause? You can look them up in the chart below. But these statistics are no better than the data behind them. And sometimes that data is not strong, or is sketchy.

“The statistics are probably wrong. (This is) because the relationship between statistics and any individual is always shaky.

“People are different and researchers use statistics primarily to overcome this inconvenient fact,” said Dr Holt.

Here is Dr Holt’s batch of true life-and-death dangers.

OBESITY - More the one-quarter of Australian adults are obese and at increased risk for early disability and premature death. A low-carb diet and a reasonable exercise program, along with an understanding doctor, are your best allies.

MRSA - At the moment they tell us that bacteria are here to stay. Wash your hands, use antibiotics as prescribed, and consider avoiding meat and dairy from livestock fed antibiotic-laced food. This stands for methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus bacteria (MRSA), an organism known as a skin infection. MRSA is a deadly infection. One source has calculated the infection has hospitalised over 80,000 people; 11,000 have died.

DEMENTIA - The odds are one in three that you’ll lose your mental faculties. It’s not a good way to go. Your best defences: Lifelong learning. Avoid alcohol abuse and head trauma, control your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.

DISTRACTED DRIVING - If you’ve been paying attention on the roads lately, you’ve probably noticed a lot of other drivers who aren’t. Drive defensively (or you to could be involved.)

Dr Holt maintains that one of the “difficult aspects of finding a killer has to do with random chance and how it plays into the well-known human tendency to find patterns where none exist.” For instance, he comes up with the rough odds that an asteroid will annihilate you are a 1 in 500,000 chance.

There are cluster of asteroids winging their way towards Mother Earth at this moment and one wonders what the outcome will be.

<< Adapted from Risk by Dr T.E. Holt; Australian Men’s Health; February, 2014.

Illustration: Oooops! Distracted driving is a danger to all people that drive – even the passengers.


COFFEE-BREAK CROSSWORDS – No. 2.  SOLUTIONS NEXT WEEK

SOLUTION – NO 1

Posted in: Grand Years with Frank Morris at 17 November 17

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